Successful Meetings - September 2008 - (Page 24)

Management Matters > By Dr. Tom McDonald Think Happy, Be Happy The mind is a wonderful thing. Even though no one has ever seen it directly, we have all experienced its power. For example, you’ve heard of paranoia—the mistaken belief that people are out to get you. Well, that very same mind can also produce the opposite phenomenon, called pronoia—the mistaken belief that people really love you more than they do. Two opposite phenomena, with two very different consequences, both produced by the same mind. Pretty amazing. Or take the “placebo effect”—you actually get better physically because you believe you will. Once again, your mind can produce just the opposite, too, called the “nocebo effect”—you actually can make yourself sick (or sicker) because you believe you’ll get worse. Then there’s the wisdom of Eleanor Roosevelt, who reminded us that “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” or the advice my mother used to give me growing up—“Tom, don’t think about it and it won’t hurt.” Because your mind can do powerful things, it’s high time we start thinking more about thinking. Let’s look at that slice of life called happiness. I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently, and evidently so have a lot of researchers. It seems that what really makes us happy are not the things that happen around us, but how we think about them. Money is a good example: More money can make you happier; no surprise there. But only up to a point. As it turns out, it’s not the absolute amount of money you have (or can earn), but how you compare that money to the wealth of those in your circle. As H.L. Mencken put it, wealth is any income that is $100 more a year than the income of your wife’s sister’s husband. How you think about your wealth, not the wealth itself, is what makes you happy. This is a mind issue. On a larger scale, recent research shows that the happiest people in the world are the Danes. Why? When asked, the most common response seems to be that they have low expectations. Expect little, and you can’t really be disappointed. Put another way, anything that comes your way can make you happy, if you don’t expect a lot. I’m reminded of the story of the gentleman who absolutely had to have a dollar in his pocket. As it turned out, one day he only had 99 cents. Was he happy? Not a bit. Even though 99 cents was only a penny short, mentally he had to have that dollar. The result? A great big disappointment. Again, it’s not the circumstances you’re in that make a difference, but how you think about them. My point is simple. There are tons of recommendations out there about how to become a happier person. But the greatest tool you have is your very own mind. It’s right there in your head and it costs you nothing. So use it, use it carefully, and use it often. Believe it or not, you can think your way to a happier life. Dr. Tom McDonald, a Ph.D. in psychology, speaks on “People Skills” needed for “Business Results.” Reach him in San Diego at (858) 523-0883,, or visit SEPTEMBER 2008 SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS ILLUSTRATION: MIKE MORAN 24

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Successful Meetings - September 2008

Successful Meetings - September 2008
Editor's Note
Industry Trends
Supplier News
Association News
Corporate Meetings
Independent Planners
Management Matters
Meetings Law
Mouth for Sale
Planner Spotlight
On Site
On Site
Tools of the Trade
Where All That Glitters May Bring Gold
Stepping Up in Class
Going for the Green
10 Great Drive-To Destinations
Charter Members
Night at the Museum
Places & Spaces
Charleston and Savannah
Los Angeles
Rocky Mountain Resorts

Successful Meetings - September 2008